Instagram Catch-Up!

Gentle reader,

I have a confession to make. I’m addicted to Instagram. If you’re a fellow addict, you can find me there as theshylion. But, the good thing about Instagram is that it keeps me snapping pics whenever I get the chance, which I can’t always do specifically for the blog. I’m just not gelling with my new camera, and I end up having to do way more post-processing that I usually do, and it doesn’t like low-light which isn’t helpful because I’m a night-owl. Eugh.

 

Anyway, I figured that to keep up with y’all and show you some sneaky peaks at some of the stuff I’ve been working on, I can do a little Instagram Catch-Up and share with you some of the little snaps I’ve taken along the way. So, here goes!

 

One of the first things you need to know before you follow me on Instagram is that I snap pics of these two brats a LOT. I’m a crazy cat man. I’m not even ashamed about it.

 

But, I also take pics of all my projects in varying stages of completions, like this sock. I’m a big fan of train knitting so that happens fairly often. (To the top left of the finished sock pic, you can see a bit of cat-butt. See!? I even snap them when I’m not even trying!) I just made this pattern up to test out doing afterthought heels. Pretty happy with the outcome!

 

I’ve been playing Civilization V on my iMac a lot lately since our consoles were stolen. Which is rarely a good idea on school nights because I may or may not have been up playing well into the wee hours of the morning on a few occasions. It’s a pretty epic game, y’all!

I’ve also had a voracious appetite for some delicious, shimmery pop so I haven’t strayed too far from my K-Pop and J-Pop playlists. This one features Meisa Kuroki, Crystal Kay, Perfume and Sophia (who are more rock, actually).

 

I made some fingerless mitts for my friend Seth! The pattern is “Swirling Gauntlets” by Susanna IC and I have to say, it was a super fun knit. I gave them to him before I could take decent pics, but I did snap a few on IG. I found that my cast on stitches for the thumb hole were a bit loose and messy even though I even did them on a smaller needle. I think next time I’ll just knit in waste yarn, rip it out later and bind off the live stitches with a stretchy bind-off.

 

I also take random shots while I’m out about. Here I am looking rather pleased because the weather finally allows me to rug up and wear scrummy warm things. My eyes are so beady! Oy. That fair isle hat – though you can’t see it very well here – is incredible, and it was made by friend Jen over at Little Yellow Cat. I’m somewhat obsessed with it. Then we have the lights of Melbourne! I’m completely enamored with good ol’ Melbs, and I’m loving the miserable, wet, cold weather. Yeah, I’m one of those people.

 

Here’s a sneaky peak of the Dartmore hat that I’ve been wrestling with. Well, I finally finished it and it’s in the post as we speak to my bestie, Panda! I miss her a lot, so I decided I’d send her a big ol’ care package stuffed with goodies including this hat. I sewed a little tag in the back so she can tell the front from the back easily, because there’s a slightly visible squiggle up the back where the rounds join. I’ll write more about it when she models it for me and sends me some pics.

But that’s all I have you for today! I have another project that I’m properly dying to share with you, but I need to get some decent pics.

But how have YOU been!? Sharezies!

 

Of Oz, Clogs and Linocut Prints!

Gentle reader,

When I finished high school in Australia, I went on student exchange to the US to do the last half of senior year all over again. Glutton for punishment, right? ^_~ Not really, it was the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole entire life, and I met some of the most awesome peeps ever. And, I also got to learn how to do linocut prints! I wish for the life of me I could remember my art teacher’s name, she was so amazing, and I feel like a jerk that I can’t remember. But, that class was so amazing, and I learned more about art and craft in the six months than I did in the two years I took art at my Australian school.

Anyway, recently my super lovely friend, Amy (who blogs at Mildly Crafty, so you should give her some love!), gave me a whole bunch of linocut bits and bobs – all stored in a delightful old cardboard suitcase – and a book about different DIY printing processes. I already had some linocut stuff, but I hadn’t touched it in years so this got me all fired up about linocut all over again!

Amy’s Awesome Gifties.

I didn’t use the clean, new blocks that Amy gave me, because I wanted to save those for when I was more practiced, so I used some lino scraps I already had. The fabric paint didn’t work very well on my lino – it balled up and didn’t print very well – so I used the regular block ink that I already had. I can’t wait to do some fabric printing though!

My first carving went straight into the bin because I’d forgotten to mirror the letters so they printed the right way, but after that I did a Wizard of Oz print which came out really well! I was very happy with that one. Beginner’s luck. The next one I did was of the clogs. It’s somewhat of a tradition for bloggers to take pictures of their feet, I guess, which I’ve always thought was quite funny and cute. A bunch of the lovely ladies whose blogs and Instagrams I follow seem to love their clogs, so I asked GourmetGirlfriend if I could use one of her Instagrams as a reference and carved a tribute to bloggers who clog. ^_~

It’s slow going, but super satisfying!

I’m still finding the best amount of ink to use. The first time, I used to too much, and tried watering it down a little. I got the best prints from thicker ink though, and having a lot of ink had some trade-offs. I got better prints, and more prints from one application, but I also got more waste prints at the beginning from the ink squishing around the edges too much. So, the second time I used less ink, and got good prints, but not quite as good, and only one or two prints per application. I need to find the happy medium.

The roller is called a brayer. The more you know!

I did prints on brown paper and some canvas cartridge. I think I liked the brown paper best. I have lots of love for brown paper… brown paper bags, brown paper parcels, ah! I love it all! So, I was really happy with my brown paper prints. I found that I liked the Oz design a lot more when the print wasn’t completely even, and the paper showed through in places with the ink. But, for the Clogs one, I liked it more when the print was very crisp and even.

No Place Like Home, and Clog Lovin’

The canvas was more of a mixed bag. I think it was just a little too textured, and the Clogs design went right up to the edge so it was tricky to line up. I think I’d like to try printing on some other textured materials that aren’t quite as rough, like watercolor paper or something. I still liked them! Just not quite as much.

Click your Silver Clogs three times… (or Ruby Clogs for the movie peeps).

All in all, I’m properly happy with the carvings, but I still have some experimenting to do with the printing process. They’re definitely not Etsy-ready, but hopefully soon. Experimenting is the fun part, so I’m well keen to get on with it!

Meanwhile, I should have a finished sock to show you soon! ^_^

What other kinds of designs would you like to see? Have you done any printing before?

O Hai! I’m Not Dead In A Ditch!

Gentle reader,

It’s been ages since I last posted. I do apologize! I’ve been meaning to get around to do a proper posts but, it just never happened. I’ve been a bit preoccupied. But, I’m back now, and here’s a recap of what’s being going on in my forest.

I did some work, and I played some games.

I finished the bunny sweater (though, I’m going to unpick the sleeves and restitch them, and fix some wonky intarsia bits with duplicate stitch)

I got an amazing parcel from my American Mom, Beth, with a bunch of lovely gifts and some of her beautiful glass work. We’re going to combine her glass pieces and my crochet into… something!

I bought some yarn. Naturally.
L to R: Rowan Colorscape Chunky, Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball, Noro Kogarashi

I got some new shoes. Green, of course.

I did some scribbles. The side two are plans for some lino block prints.

I smooched some cheeky pooses.

Listened to some tunes.
L to R: Emi Hinouchi – “Me”, Midlake – “The Trials of Van Occupanther,
The Civil Wars – “Barton Hollow”

I did some wandering around Melbs and enjoyed the turn of the season.

Aaaaand, I started some big, chunky bedsocks with the Kogarashi for my friend, Alf!
I’m using the pattern “Thuja” from Knitty.com

Phew! Did you like “My Life In Pictures” recap? Hope so! I’ll be back to posting regularly now. I think I might do more of these – unless raiding my Instagram is cheating… Hmmm…

How have you been!? Catch up in the comments! ^_^

Toto-Phone: Finished!

Gentle reader,

You peeps and my pals on FB seem to have gone properly mental over my Totoro cross-stitch phone case! Y’all are crazy! And completely sweet, and I heart you all. So, not to disappoint, I’ve worked as fast as I can, and, now, I present to you my Toto-phone!

Mmm, shall I do a Cat-Bus one next?

I’m pretty happy with it. The case itself is a great, snug fit for my iPhone and I was glad to get rid of the stretchy, loose silicone one. The design itself turned out in the end; I did have to make a few slight changes to my original chart, but I’m pleased with him now. I will do up the chart and post it in case anyone is interested in doing their own cross-stich Totoro. ^_~

To recap, if you want to do your own cross-stich iPhone case, you can get yours online here or here, or you can buy them in store at Morris & Sons (Sydney and Melbourne).

If you could do one, what design would you go for? And if you actually do do one, you MUST share it with me! I’ll pretty much love you forever! 

Of Veggigurumi And Undead Books

Gentle reader,

I had the lovely opportunity of visiting Stephanie and Megan at Can Do Books in Hawthorn today. If you’re in Melbourne and you’ve not been, you really must go. Their selection of crafty and arty books are totes amazeballs, and the prices are kind of jaw-droppingly reasonable (which is a bit of a rare thing in Australia, actually!). We had a chat about some opportunities to do some really cool stuff together, so I’ll keep y’all posted. In the meantime though, do you mind if I show off the purchase I made while I was there? The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt!

Back from the dead!

The 4-1-1 on this book is that it was well popular and then it went out of print for a number of years (the publication details lists it’s last edition as being printed in 1988!). Demand was so high though that people went properly crazy and apparently second hand copies were selling for the $200 ballpark on eBay! Oy! But, it’s been revised and updated and is back on the shelves. Zombie book! It’s alive! I had a quick flip through and was overcome with the desire to take it home with me, so I did, as a matter of fact. I think these will sell like gangbusters, because it’s the kind of book that if you only ever bought one book about knitting, this would do perfectly. Seriously, this thing is so big you could brain someone with it. I tried flipping through some more on the train and I nearly dislocated my arm! And considering it only cost $49.99, let’s be real, I kind of feel like a stole it, just a lil’ bit. I’ll tell you some more about it when I’ve had more time to pour through it (seated safely at the table, mind. No more dislocations).

Meanwhile, I have some crochet FOs to show you! Back when I was at the Loch Quilt and Craft Festival, I was crocheting while I was sitting at my table, and I don’t know what possessed me, but I started to whip up some vegetables, or ‘veggigurumi’ as I like to call them. I did the aubergine first. Now, I would sooner eat my own sick than eat aubergine, but I think they’re pretty and I love their color. And this yarn colorway was even named “Rustic Aubergine” (Morris Estate 14 ply), so I suppose that might have sown the seed for veggigurumi. And the carrot was next because I happened to have a red-orange yarn and I actually do like carrots. So, there you have it!

Do carrots and aubergine even go together? I haven't a clue.

Anyway, I was really quite happy with how they turned out, actually! I think aubergines are a bit longer, but I wanted it to a be fat little nuggety one. I can’t quite remember what yarn the carrot was made of, but I suspect it was Sean Sheep from Big W (don’t pooh-pooh the Sean Sheep from Big W, it’s actually quite lovely!). The green bits were from some Magnum Soft, which is a pretty decent acrylic yarn if you’re on a budget. It’s quite squishy and not at all scratchy or plastic-y). I feel like I need a few more items for the collection, for a fruit/vegetable bowl or cornucopia if you will. Perhaps an apple or broccoli, I’m not sure.

Also, if you missed it, I’ve opened an Etsy store, which you can visit here! And, if you go to this post and comment, I’ll send you a coupon code for 15% off, just ‘cuz I love you. ^_^ Truth be told, you can comment on any post and say you want a coupon code. Ask and ye shall receive.

Have you bought some awesome books lately? Share, share, share!

Of Puppies and Bunnies

Gentle reader,

It’s a new week, and a new entry in the FO parade. I’m gonna jump right into it!

le Bunny du Blue (that's French for Blue Bunny, y'know)

First up is this little blue bunny. He’s a wee little thing, and he looks rather kooky, but I like that. I’m not sure exactly what brand of yarn I used for him, but it was an 8 ply pure wool.

Dapper Dog

I’m quite pleased with how this dog turned out. I think he’s rather dapper! I haven’t made too many dogs or puppies before, but I think I’ll make some more, and perhaps try a version on all fours. He’s made out of Cleckheaton Country Naturals, which I really like working with and I like the extra bit of texture it has over regular Cleckheaton Country.

Well, that’s all for today, it’s a short and sweet one, I’m afraid.

How was your weekend? Did you have a good one? I hope so!

– R

Of Bears And Presents

Gentle reader,

Here’s is the next float in my FO Parade! Only one today, because I have something else awesome to show you too.

Blue Bear says "Wassup!?"

He’s more or less what I call my “formula bear”. When I start crocheting something, I have no idea what it’s going to be. Often I’ll have the body and head before I even have a clue what kind of critter it will be. Sometimes it even comes down to the ears. But, if nothing strikes my fancy along the way, they become a bear like this. I love these bears though, even though I can do them on autopilot now. I especially love this little gentleman because of his wonky eye and lopsided nuzzle. And his little tongue!

For this fella (and the Nugget the Owl, actually), I used a yarn from Spotlight called “Cardinal” which is an acrylic, alpaca and merino blend. I actually really liked it! It can be easy to be a yarn snob, but sometimes a decent, cheaper acrylic or acrylic blend is just the trick for these little critters. And hey, sometimes we crafters are on a budget, right? ^_~

The other thing I wanted to show you is a gift from my lovely friend Kate, who has a food blog called The World Is A Chocolate Cupcake which you should check out. Anyway, she has been taking sewing classes at Thread Den and she got a sewing machine for Christmas, and she made me this project bag!

le Bag du Project (that's French for project bag, y'know)

Firstly, who does’t like presents? Secondly, who doesn’t love handmade presents? And furthermore, a thoughtful gift is the most awesome, and clearly Kate knows me pretty well. I LOVE project bags. I mean, I have tons of them and it’s never enough! I usually buy drawstring bags from Japanese dollar stores (if you’re looking for a good, cheap project bag and you’re in Melbourne, check out Daiso right this minute!) but I’m always looking for new ones. And I love green (in case you haven’t noticed) so when she presented me with this little treasure I melted! I love, love, love it!

She’d also stuffed it full of all kinds of interesting yarn remnants which I’ll put to good use soon, I’m sure. It’s the ideal size for an amigurumi-to-be and some yarn. I can even fit my little notions pouch in there as well. Perfection!

Thank you, Kate! ❤

What’s the best handmade gift you’ve ever gotten? Or that you’ve given? Ooh, do tell!

– R

Of Owls and Dinosaurs (Maybe Dragons?)

Gentle reader,

I’ve been crocheting up a storm lately! I have lots of finished objects to show you, but rather than blast them all at you at once, I’m going to do it bit by bit. That gives me time to keep making more and we can see just how long I can make the FO Parade last!

First up today is an owl I finished just the other day! I’d made a smaller owl in this fashion a few years back as gift for a friend, and this is kind of like a bigger, refined version.

'Nugget' the Green Owl

I named him Nugget because I love how he’s just a little nuggety unit with owl parts. He makes me happy, and is definitely my favorite of today’s line-up. His eyes are made by layering three buttons, and his beak is this bizarre button I had lying around that’s made from a shell! I thought it was just the right shape for a little owl nugget.

Trade secret: You know the black rectangles of plastic in the bottoms of environmental shopping bags? To make his little tooshy flat and to keep his wings and tail stiff, I cut the shapes out of that plastic rectangle and then stitched the felt over it, or pressed it into the bottom of his body before I stuffed it. He also has a Gacha machine capsule filled with rice in his center so his nose doesn’t tip him forward. Which is a good way of reusing them, since I am clinically incapable of passing a Gacha machine without getting something. Oy! I have problems.

Now, the last one for today, well, I’m undecided what he is. If he’s a dinosaur, he’s part T-rex and part Stegosaurus. But, maybe then he’s a dragon? Who knows? You’ll have to ask him yourself.

"Am I a dragon or a dinosaur? I'm so confused!"

He was a bit of an experiment, and while I consider the experiment a success, I definitely have my lessons learned for next time. His face could be a lil’ bit cuter, and I might even add claws next time.

Meanwhile, I used my Kanji and Hiragana charts as backgrounds for a change. I really like it! It’s a nice change from black or white paper. What do you think?

– R

December Travels – Chapter One

Gentle reader,

As many of you may know, I moved to Melbourne from Brisbane about a year ago and these holidays I’m spending two weeks in my home state of Queensland. Week one is almost down, and here are a few highlights! (Please forgive the iffy picture quality; some of the shots and all of the editing were done on my iPod and iPad!)

First, the flight from Melbourne to Brisbane!

I LOVE flying, and I love flying even better when you take off before dark and are still in the air after dark. These pictures don’t do the amazing horizon justice. Also, I love photographing clouds. I think they’re totes amazing.

Clearly, she is a model and I am not.

My best friend Panda picked me up from the airport and I stayed at her place in Brisbane which she shares with Audra and Eden who are also amazing peeps and were so generous with their hospitality.

Over the few days I was there, we checked out some great stores, got a Totoro phone trinket, ate crazy amounts of Bread Top, went to visit our lovely friend Kath and her beautiful shop, Handmade High Street. We also went on a wild goose chase for yarn stores – one was shut and one didn’t exist anymore – before we finally made it to Tangled Yarns, which is AMAZEBALLS. They stock Berocco, Pierrot (my fave!), Cascade 220, madelainetosh, and Malabrigo. I’ll definitely be going back there. We also wandered through an antique/bric-a-brac store where I picked up some delightful old knitting patterns (more on that later!). I also got to catch up with my adorable friends, Alf and Robert.

Suzie, the lovely lady, and Larry, the resident water dragon.

On the Sunday, I visited Judy, one of my favorite people ever (you may remember her from my post about the crochet bolero I did a while back). Her and her husband Peter made the most delicious BBQ lunch, and we relaxed on their back veranda while Suzie and Larry kept us company.

Judy's hat, made from Noro Kochoran.

I also snapped Judy in the hat I knitted for her (and finished the night before). I made it using the Hurricane Hat pattern by Andrea Goutier with Noro Kochoran yarn. I’m not sure what color way, because it was just a left over ball from something with no label. I don’t know why, but all those shots came out blurry. Oy. But, Kate will be pleased that I’ve posted another FO. Happy, Kate!? Geesh. ^_~

"Sah-kurity!"

I also managed to get a bit done on my Bon Qui Qui cross stitch. The picture is terrible, but you get an idea. I drew Bon Qui Qui on some graph paper and then used colored pencils to figure out my color blocking, and then started stitching. I’ve got a looooong way to go, but it was nice to do something a bit different.

Pan-Pan! I miss you already! (Also, is my bottom lip really that big? Oy.)

Finally, on Monday, Panda dropped me off at the bus depot to catch a Greyhound to my home town. I was super sad to say buh-bye to Pan, and there were some friends I just didn’t have time to visit. But, I was so excited to see my folks, and we’ve been having a great time so far. More to come!

How is your holiday season going so far? ^_^

– R